Saturday, April 17, 2010

Care infuzed with Justice

After reading Taking Care: Care as Practice and Value by Virginia Held, I have concluded that care should be the greater structure through which justice should work. Justice and care are both valuable concepts that we must work together to find a suitable balance between two systems that are necessary for moral thinking. How exactly do they fit together, though? Our division of care and justice from our last class made me realize that a framework that looks at rights, equality, and liberty is not easily joined with one that values relatedness, community, and caring action. However, the two must fuse in order to best provide for our society.

Justice is needed in the spheres of both state and family. We attempt to make an equitable division of labor between men and women, protect individuals from domestic violence, and protect the rights of the individual. In a system that cares for those who cannot provide for themselves, such as children or the aged, however, justice forces us to avoid paternalistic domination. Care is needed in the public sector, as well, to provide for those from contexts that do not allow them to provide for themselves or that need more to live an autonomous life. Making provisions for these individuals should be done in such a way that empowers, however, and avoids devaluing the ability and potential of citizens, such as is seen in the current Welfare program.

Care and justice cannot exist in two different spheres, public and private, though they are different and often do not work together easily. Care and justice, then, could be seen as Carol Gilligan recommended: different but equally valid. Choices involving public policy should seek both care and justice in a model that uses justice to determine bare minimums that belong to all individuals, regardless of age, gender, and class. Care questions circumstances beyond justice and asks questions about the contexts in which individuals or groups of individuals are involved. Justice is certainly useful, but not necessary. The family unit requires little justice, but there is a lot of care that happens within it and the unit functions fully. I believe that justice, essentially, should not be the sole criteria for determining morality. Care is the better framework that should be questioned by justice, not confined by it. Within our own society, we must develop this framework that allows a care for each other that emphasizes interrelatedness. We must care for one another enough to ensure that everyone has an environment in which to live and sustain himself or herself without violence or suffering. The values and morality seen in the family unit helps create a framework that understands that care is a time consuming, costly effort that is worth it.

1 comment:

  1. While I respect your argument, I still must disagree. Care may be a better framework for a family unit, but in society writ large, care (as opposed to justice) does not work. It doesn't work because it requires elements of emotionality and morality that are not generalizable to a large population due to our infinitely different backgrounds, upbringings, genetic make-ups, etc. The care perspective, essentially, is always subjective; the justice perspective, while it can be construed many ways (utility, distributive justice, etc.), can be construed objectively so as to pertain to all individuals equally.


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